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  #1  
Unread 01-19-2021, 11:27 AM
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Daniel Kemper Daniel Kemper is offline
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Default [The longest day is not the warmest day]

The longest day is not the warmest day,
though sunshine warms the world. The afterglow
of satisfied September lolled away;
the thrills of spring careened along, although
what they pursue, they do not know. The sigh
foretold so well by summer's bashful squints,
grew hot beyond that first climactic high,
but they did cool. And haven't happened since.
These thoughts arrive on winter's solstice, whose
metastasizing darkness claims the moon.
I shiver knowing stars are merely clues
that all of this will get much colder soon.
The raw saudade of the season turns
in me again. How is it that it burns?


or for L9:
And so these thoughts on winter's solstice, whose

L9-10 were:
And so these thoughts arrive in winter, whose
longest-lasting night bewails the moon.

Last edited by Daniel Kemper; 01-26-2021 at 06:13 PM. Reason: L10 trochee
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  #2  
Unread 01-19-2021, 01:07 PM
Susan McLean Susan McLean is online now
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Daniel, why do you switch from past to present tense in L4-5? What does the "they" in L8 refer to? It does not appear to refer to "squints," the only plural noun right before it. In L13 "saudade" stops me cold. Not only do I not know the word, but it isn't even in my desk dictionary. Can you not find an English word that conveys your meaning? I disapprove of the presumption that everyone will Google any word they don't know, and I couldn't figure this one out from the context.

Might I suggest "Delayed" as a title? It is usually not a good idea to have the title be the first line.

Susan
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  #3  
Unread 01-19-2021, 01:48 PM
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Jayne Osborn Jayne Osborn is offline
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Hi Daniel,

I'm just about to join a Zoom meeting [how many times do we say that, these days?] so it's a quick comment for now:

I agree with Susan about not using the first line as a title, but not about "saudade". I never mind Googling a word I don't know, and finding out that this is Portuguese for:

a deep emotional state of nostalgic or profound melancholic longing for an absent something or someone that one cares for and/or loves delighted me. (I think that line might need another beat.) We should all have a word for that feeling... rather like "schadenfreude"!

The sigh foretold so well by summer's bashful squints
is a lovely alliterative phrase.

Now I have to dash. Nice poem... I look forward to seeing any revisions you might make.

Jayne
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  #4  
Unread 01-19-2021, 02:20 PM
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R. Nemo Hill R. Nemo Hill is offline
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Yeah, saudade is a relatively well-known foreign word that is generally accepted to be consummately untranslatable. It's a staple of Portuguese Fado music, where its resonance is sublime. Here, though, I don't think it works very well--it seems just dragged in as a short cut, or for the sake of exotic erudition.

I do like this couplet...

I shiver knowing stars are merely clues
that all of this will get much colder soon.


Nemo
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  #5  
Unread 01-20-2021, 03:28 AM
Andrew Frisardi Andrew Frisardi is offline
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I agree that the poem’s context doesn’t justify bringing in the Portuguese word, however nice a word it is in itself. If this were explicitly about a Brazilian lover, say, or a trip to Portugal, I’d enjoy the interjection, but it feels dissonant without contextualizing details.

This poem overall really is not working for me. For one thing, there are a number of expendable words and phrases. E.g., do we really need to be told that sunshine warms the world? Other words and phrases, too, need to be weighed against the work they’re doing in the actual poem.

Also, the time sequence is confusing. Why does the poem open with the summer solstice, followed by September, and then go back to spring? Or is the reference to a spring which followed the summer and fall? If so, we’d need winter in between, to make the chronology meaningful, but instead the poem brings in winter after spring. As a result, I am unable to make sense of this or put myself in the speaker’s position to identify with the experience of nostalgia and loss.

Some of the conceits sound precious or sentimentalized. For example, to me “bashful squints” for summer is not only precious but off-key as well: in reality, summer roars while spring hesitates or is bashful. I get it, I think, that the stages of a love affair are being referenced here, so one or both of the lovers were bashful during the summer, but the personification of the lovers’ emotions in terms of the seasons isn’t working. The people would need to be part of the narrative, too, for that to be effective or affecting. “Bewails the moon” is unearned melodrama and there is nothing in the poem which explains why night, which is the time the moon generally is out, would be bewailing it. I suppose it could be a reference to the time of the new moon, but what meaning does that have in the present poem?

I don’t think the poem is hopeless, just an early draft which needs quite a bit of work to hone in more on concrete particulars and steer away from blurriness and vagueness, which is what nostalgia becomes when it is having a bad-hair day.

Some dialogue or human actions of the lovers, as well as clarification of some of the details I’ve mentioned, could help. Letting go of the sonnet form, at least for a draft or two, might help as well, since I have the impression that the form predetermined the content too much in this case.

Best,

Andrew
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  #6  
Unread 01-20-2021, 01:23 PM
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Daniel Kemper Daniel Kemper is offline
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Howdy y'all,

I really appreciate the feedback on this, there's gonna be some renovations. But let me clarify some stuff too. First, generally if a poem has not been titled, it's standard notation to use the first line with brackets, right?

Susan,
"Delayed" is not bad, not bad. Could there be something that suggests a little more? It's a good start and certainly better than where the poem is now. In L4-5: Two things: it didn't happen once and stop. It's not ongoing in the normal sense. It's a statement of a property of spring. The second thing is that it's just where the poem moves from setting to action. "They" = thrills as in the thrills of spring.

As to "saudade", c'mon. It's a good word, the right word. I could have used "Li" (a profound sense of beautiful sadness). English doesn't have one. This is HOW English acquires words it needs. Obscurities of mythology, historical figures, religion and regionalism are ubiquitous here-- few of which would be in your dictionary and which typically pass without a blink. "Saudade" isn't even that obscure and anyway, you were not reading this poem from your dictionary, but from the Internet. Ctrl+T, type define: saudade and you have enough information in less time than it would take to reach for your dictionary. C'mon.


Jayne, thanks for the drive by props and crits. I scan the saudade line with saudade as sawDAHday... -?


Nemo,
thanks for your acknowledgment of usage of saudade. No vocabulary one-upsmanship going on. There's simply no other word (save Li) and the poem is saturated with it. I am greatly encouraged by your enjoyment of the couplet you point out. We jab often, and I count on the unparalleled quality of your critical eye. If you point something out as good, it's bedrock. Thank you.

Andrew,
The poem seems written too loosely; it allows for unsupported reads. It will take some work. Let me make the point in prose and see if you have some ideas for how to better tighten it. The conceit is that since it is sunshine that warms the world, one likely initially intuits that the day with the most light would be the day with the most warmth (and conversely with least light and lowest temperature). But this is not so. The hottest day is always well after "the climax" and the coldest after the solstice. So it is with human affairs. The first kiss, sex, romantic moment is certainly an unparalleled high compared to all that went before, but the best lovemaking comes in the times following. But I wanted to cap the poem with an irony having the speaker "burning" at the solstice.

So, the read is not that the sunshine warms the world, but that despite that fact, the day with the most sunshine is not the day with the most warmth.

The flow of seasons occurred to me this way (and now that you point it up, I can see how it could be a stumbling block). I'm starting talking about warmth, so I pick a warm day, a follow-on time to summer solstice. I felt this would be a poem about winding down though-- when one is in the midst of the moment, one is not writing, one is kissing. So the writing implies a setting post-intensity. But next, I have to handle the follow-on time to winter solstice. That done, I move to handle the solstices themselves, thus early summer's start of romance (brought to full measure later in summer), but then the cooling, which completes our circuit with the speaker in winter. Here, btw you have a point about "bewails". I figured I'd get skewered for that. And largely agree with that skewering, but not with saudade. (Guess I'm just weird.)
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  #7  
Unread 01-20-2021, 03:24 PM
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Jayne Osborn Jayne Osborn is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Daniel Kemper View Post
Jayne, thanks for the drive by props and crits. I scan the saudade line with saudade as sawDAHday... -?
Hi Daniel,
I was going by the pronunciation as it's said here - as in "sow (rhyming with 'now') dad", with only two syllables, but I guess there are several ways to say it, as you say it like saw-DAH-day, with three syllables; that's why the line appeared to be a beat short, to my ear.

I still think it's a good word to include in the poem.

Jayne
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  #8  
Unread 01-21-2021, 03:12 PM
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Kevin Rainbow Kevin Rainbow is offline
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No need to say "day" twice in the first line. "The longest one is not the warmest day" would be fine.

The lines Nemo mentioned stood out for me too. A nice touch.
.

Quote:
I disapprove of the presumption that everyone will Google any word they don't know
Why? It's true for most people now a days, isn't it? Other people may have it even easier: they may have a browser feature that requires only highlighting the word on the page for a meaning/definition to be displayed.

.

Last edited by Kevin Rainbow; 01-21-2021 at 03:43 PM.
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  #9  
Unread 01-21-2021, 09:30 PM
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Daniel Kemper Daniel Kemper is offline
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Hi Jayne,

Thanks for that. So weird. When I first encountered the word 2-3 years ago I looked up how to pronounce it. Now I can’t even find the site I used. Lots came up, but not the one I used. Also never heard the sow-dodge (rhymes with how-hodge) variation. Good for updating. I have to fix here and elsewhere that I’ve used it! It’s also basically trochaic!
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  #10  
Unread 01-21-2021, 09:34 PM
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Daniel Kemper Daniel Kemper is offline
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Hi Kevin,

Thanks for that observation. I wrote the first sentence and sat on it a couple days before moving through the rest of the poem. It never occurred to me to read it as you did. But now that you have mentioned it, I do see it. I’ll have to mull it a bit. Thank you for the read.
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